ready-fire-aim-whoopsSo you want to build a high-performing B2B demand gen program.  You have just begun your planning and you are thinking about where to start.  I have worked as a marketer inside software startups, emerging growth businesses and global giants and the starting questions for any planning exercise should always the same:

What are the business’s strategic goals? What in turn are marketing’s goals, objectives and KPIs in support of achieving those business goals?

I have witnessed many a marketing team struggle to nail down a clearly articulated set of corporate goals against which to align its strategies and tactics.  It is the job of the marketing leader to do just that, even if it means coaching and cajoling his or her executive team into doing so.

Without the answers to the key question of corporate strategy, any target objectives and KPIs for marketing are based on “ready, fire, aim.”

Over the years I have learned that in many cases trying to get my management team to develop a formal strategic plan with clearly articulated business goals can be an uphill march.  So I like to come into a new situation armed with a simple framework for capturing just enough input from my fellow executives to get the marketing plan rolling with consensus agreement on what we are shooting for.

If you cannot fully grasp the need for such clarity, imagine spending long hours developing your marketing plan, and even commencing execution, only to find out after the fact that your CEO has a different set of priorities for marketing.  Whoops!

Without further ado, I present to you my simplified model for capturing, aligning and articulating back to your management team the goals, objectives and KPIs upon which you will build your high performing B2B demand gen plan.

The Business/Marketing Goal and KPI Map – Clarity Brings Energy

Before creating the map, identify with your leadership team the top 3-5 business goals that will drive company-wide execution for the coming planning period—typically the next 12 months.  Here is an example taken and redacted from a SaaS company.

Fiscal Year [20XX] Business Goals 

  • Establish [Company] As THE Leader In [Category]
  • Show Dramatic Growth In Saas Bookings And Market Share Leadership
    • $140M Total Bookings, $80M New SaaS ACV, $60M Renewals
    • ~2000 New SaaS Customers; 500 Competitive Displacements
  • Deliver Increased Customer Value
    • > 70 New and 30 Upgrade References
    • Onboarding  <= 30 days;
    • Customer Sat >85% Renewal Rate >= 90%
  • External Recognition as Leaders
    • Recognized As Leader By Analysts In Both [Category] And SaaS
    • 60% Win Rate Against [Key Competitor] 

Now that we have captured a clear and measurable set of strategic business goals, it is time to develop and align marketing’s own set of objectives and KPIs in support of those goals.  The mapping below illustrates how I like to present and setup my planning process with my team and our key stakeholders across the business..

Business Goal Marketing Objective KPIs
Establish [Company] As THE Leader In [Category] /  External Recognition as Leaders Market Leadership and Awareness
  • AR:  Leadership position in Gartner and Forrester vendor benchmark reports
  • PR:  Placement of customer news and feature stories
  • Social Media:  Increase our social media presence to leading Share of Conversation and Mention levels with special emphasis on [key competitor].
  • Positive direction for [company].com for search (both natural and paid) as well as web page volume
  • Pre-[company].com:
    • Natural search metrics
    • Paid search – Cost per lead
    • [company].com: Increase traffic to the trial forms as well as increase traffic to and time on product page.
    • Tone:  Fight like a start up


Show Dramatic Growth In Saas Bookings And Market Share Leadership Provide targeted demand generation to build SaaS pipeline
  • Lead generation
  • Competitive replacement
  • Loyalty / upgrade / migration




  • Strong uptick in number of new contacts
  • Achieve above avg conversions on nurture streams
  • Strong contribution to new opportunities
  • Develop profiles to competitive accounts to assist in competitive wins


Deliver Increased Customer Value Retain and engage our installed base
  • Joint [company] and Partner customer references
  • Number of accounts contacted
  • Meetings held within the accounts contacted
  • Installed: base:250 Upgrade trials
  • Installed Base:  100 [new feature set] -> trials
  • Field:  All [company] events include customer stories/appearances/case studies





 In actuality, there are a couple of additional objectives goals and KPIs that I would add to this list.  The types of objectives might include:

  • Field and Channel Enablement—Provide sales teams and the channel with the content, tools, and demonstrations they need to present and differentiate our offerings.  KPIs might include differentiated positioning, completeness of sales collateral, timely product demos (<10 days from release), etc.
  • Customer References—informal, community based; formal, through our reference program, advocates, e.g., CIO champions. KPIs would be agreed to accordingly.

Are You Ready to Hit the Bull’s-eye?

I sincerely hope that this article was of help to some.  Please let me know.  Am I hitting the bull’s-eye with you? What specific approach have you employed to successfully align your organization around a clear, commonly understood set of marketing objectives and measures that are aligned to strategic corporate goals?